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Providence is a given, but who else? Georgetown? Marquette? Villanova? DePaul? St. John's? Seton Hall?
The Big East is once again a basketball conference. The founding members of Big East version 3.0 will include the seven non-FBS Catholic schools -- Georgetown, Marquette, Villanova, DePaul, Providence, St. John's and Seton Hall -- once they successfully extricate themselves from version 2.0. Two more -- Butler and Xavier -- plan to leave the Atlantic 10 to join the new league starting next season. Creighton is the favorite to become Big East school #10 and Dayton and Saint Louis may not be far behind.
As a fellow eastern Catholic school, Boston College is more than a little familiar with a number of these programs going back to the 1979 formation of the original Big East. BC will still play Providence every year, but who else from the new conference should hoops schedule in non-conference play*?
1. Georgetown Hoyas -- The two Jesuit rivals have met 72 times on the hardwood with the Hoyas owning a 44-28 edge in the all-time series. Boston College and Georgetown last met in the 2007 NCAA Tournament Second Round in Winston-Salem, a 62-55 victory by Georgetown. BC-G'town is a good rival of your rival game (Syracuse) and the Eagles would stand to gain with more exposure in the Washington D.C. area now that Maryland has one foot out the door.
2. Villanova Wildcats -- Another long-standing Big East rival which the Eagles last faced in the NCAA Tournament in a game that shall not be revisited here. The Eagles and Wildcats first faced one another during the 1945-46 season and last in 2006 with Villanova owning a 53-24 record in the all-time series.
3. St. John's Red Storm -- With Big East 3.0 likely to keep the conference's relationship with Madison Square Garden, I have my doubts whether the ACC Tournament will ever make its way as far north as New York City. With Pitt jumping into the recruitment of New York shooting guard Jon Severe, and with Jamie Dixon's success in recruiting the NYC area, I've often wondered why BC doesn't similarly recruit New York hard. A non-conference games with the Johnnies would go a long way towards making recruiting in-roads in New York City. St. John's leads the all-time series 45-27, though BC earned an 82-70 victory the last time these two programs faced one another in November 2008.
4. Seton Hall Pirates -- Similar to St. John's, Seton Hall is another NYC-area program that the Eagles are very familiar with. It's the Eagles, however, that own a 44-28 edge in the 72 game series. BC and Seton Hall last faced one another during the 2004-05 season, the Eagles last in the Big East. Boston College won 70-58.
The Eagles have little to no history with the rest of Big East v3.0, so if I had to pick a fifth, let's go with ...
5. DePaul Blue Demons -- Because ... DePaul. And Chicago, for recruiting and all the Chicago-land alums. The two programs have faced one another just twice all-time, with BC and DePaul splitting the series at one. The Eagles and Blue Demons last met in the 1982 NCAA Tournament second round, where an 8th seeded BC squad upset top-seeded DePaul 82-75 en route to the Elite Eight. BC would fall to 6th seeded Houston in the Regional Finals 99-92.
* in an ideal world where BC has been absolved of its sins for leaving Big East version 1.0 back in the day. I mean all these schools are breaking away now too so perhaps all is forgiven? It would be the Catholic thing to do after all.